News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, August 8, 2019
Letter writing for lobstermen opens Sunday in Stonington Town Hall

by Faith DeAmbrose

On Sunday, August 11—a day when fishing is not allowed—lobstermen, their families, friends, and the greater community are invited to Stonington to write letters.

Lover letters?

Letters to a pen pal?

No, these are letters to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration specifically aimed at providing feedback to the federal organization as it prepares a draft environmental impact statement that will suggest modifications to its Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (TRP).

Local fishermen, who participated in a recent rally to show their opposition to proposed changes to the TRP that could mean a reduction of trap lines or even limit the overall number of traps, say that it would hurt the fishery, and it is not supported by science.

“There will be a simple form letter available for lobstermen and community members to fill out about the effects of these regulations on their businesses,” said lobsterman Julie Eaton who is helping to organize the effort along with Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings. “There will also be paper and envelopes if [people] want to write their own letter to NOAA,” she added, “along with computer volunteers to help send letters by email or general letter writing help if anyone needs it.”

And why stop at letter writing?

“We are encouraging coastal communities to put up signs along the routes that the NOAA officials will travel” said Eaton, with slogans that talk about saving the industry as well as the community.

NOAA is scheduled to hold four meetings in the coming week, including the closest location to Stonington, scheduled for Tuesday, August 13, at the Ellsworth High School Performing Arts Center, from 6 to 9 p.m. For a list of other locations, see story on page 1.

According to Eaton, “we are encouraging everyone to come. All ages, including children who are our future.”

The letter writing campaign will take place at the town hall from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.